Christmas Ale (-2016) | Bell's Brewery - Eccentric Café & General Store

Your Rating: None
Want it   Got it 
1,759 Ratings

Brewed by:
Bell's Brewery - Eccentric Café & General Store
Michigan, United States

Style: Scottish Ale

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 5.50%

Availability: Winter

Notes / Commercial Description:
The basic inspiration for Bell's Christmas Ale was to create a sessionable holiday beer, using locally grown malt, which would stand apart from the array of spiced winter warmers that are typically introduced this time of year. In contrast to many other seasonals, Christmas Ale doesn't contain any spices: all of the dry, toasted notes & subtle toffee flavors come from the Michigan-grown barley, custom malted by Briess Malting, while a blend of hops from Michigan & the Pacific Northwest lend earthy, herbal aromas

Added by BierFan on 11-06-2008

This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

User Ratings & Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
Ratings: 1,759 |  Reviews: 541
Photo of Bung
3.5/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Suprisingly light amber pour. Disapating off white head. Some malt, raisin aromas, but more piney/citrus hops than would be expected for the style. Tastes similarly. Finish hop bitter clean. Overall, pretty drinkable, but I would classify this as somewhere between a pale and a scotch ale. I expected more with this style being one I've taken a liking to and Bell's usually producing quality in the traditionally stronger flavored/abv styles. Bell's still has it's standouts, but many of their low gravity style beers are becoming rather mainstream.

 549 characters

Photo of Baileyuk
3.76/5  rDev +5%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Poured on tap at Uptoen Grille in Commerce.

Apperance was with a decent head that did not retain very well. Lacing was good although did not last throughout. There was a cloudiness to the beer.

Definate malt profiles are dominant in both the taste and smell. Faint hops also in both. This is a very decent, although uninspiring, taste.

The carbonation was good on this and drinkability was near perfect. An all around good solid beer, although it was just missing something.

 477 characters

Photo of malty
3.61/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Inaugural 2008 vintage Batch 8802 - another hooray for Bell's.

Pours a glowing russet orange with a loose 1" light khaki head. Not a lot of visible carbonation. Funny, I'd say this has a slight chilled haze but I'm trying it at cellar temp. (approx. 52F). No suspended particles but it's a tad cloudy. Nice thin and graceful sheets of lace.

Scent is curiously tame for a holiday offering. The malts are abundantly fresh and clean with a mineraly earthy note. The back label reads...'a malt driven scotch ale made with 100% MI grown barley and a blend of PNW & Michigan hops'. No perceivable PNW hop profile is found in the nose but I do detect a little spiciness, (maybe the Michigan hops?).

The flavors I'm getting out-of-the-gate are soft pale malts and a clean, dry spiciness that is more of a texture trait from the hops, but no real 'pop' from the hops. I'm searching for a peatiness since this beer is described as a 'scotch' ale, but I cannot detect any smoke in the least. Not sweet, like most scotch ale (which is a good thing).

Mouthfeel is just about perfect. Soft, airy, gentle and fine carbonation make the medium body glide down the gullet. A nice semi-dry finish.

Drinkability is great. This is a no-nonsense session beer for sure.

Now the bottle is almost finished, this ale reminds me of their 'Amber' without the toasty or sweet qualities. Bell's went to the opposite side of the holiday seasonal spectrum and gave us a straightforward, well-crafted soft, malty and clean session beer. The back label also reads, '...sure to make any occasion festive'. I won't argue with that. I'd call it the Christmas 'Oberon'. It's non-intrusive and broad reaching without any sharp corners or overly pronounced elements. Although, I doubt I would buy more for myself - but maybe for 'guests'

 1,804 characters

Photo of JDK
4.33/5  rDev +20.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured a golden amber color with a 1 finger off white head
Very mild smell along with the taste, light toasted malts, coriander and a touch of hops.
Mouthfeel was light on the carbonation with an almost flat finish.
Very good over all and worth a try

 250 characters

Photo of Proteus93
3.63/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A: A nice reddish hue, there's a tea-like quality to it. Slightly hazy, and a nice sudsy, two-finger head that holds on for a while and calmly recedes, leaving traces of lacing behind.

S: A bit on the lighter side... toasty malts, a soft kiss of caramel, and a little dash of soapiness.

T: Some soft caramel notes. Modest toasted malts, a trace of toffee, and a minimal note of hoppiness.

M + D: A medium, slightly chewy body with a moderate, pleasant carbonation. A fairly easy drinker. I dunno about Scotch Ale ... Scottish Ale seems a little more suitable? Either way, not too shabby, though I'd personally lean towards a little bigger during the season.

 663 characters

Photo of mrquartetman
3.63/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A - Dark coppery color with a decent head that dissipated fairly quickly.

S - Malty aroma with some caramel

T - Malty, as it should be, with a subdued sweetness. Nicely balanced. It isn't quite as complex as some of the heavier Scotch Ales.

M - A pleasing feel, not too thin, not too dense.

D - A very drinkable winter, though not as "strong" as most winter warmers

I expected more of this beer. I liked it, but hoped for a good, chewy, strong winter warmer Scotch ale. It's not quite that.

 495 characters

Photo of jsquire
3.3/5  rDev -7.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Amber colored beer out of the bottle with a foamy thin beige head that left lots of sticky lace. Malty nose with a suggestion of peat smoke. Dark caramel sweetness with some smokey malts and dark fruit. A little thin, with too much water in the flavor. I do expect more from Bells. I would not have identfied this as a Scotch ale. Okay enough.

 343 characters

Photo of KeefD
3.98/5  rDev +11.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Significantly hazed copper orange color with a nice tan head that falls slowly, lots of suspended particulates (always a welcome staple of Bell's) and some lacing. Aroma is very fruity. There's some orange, and lemon in the nose backed up by some sweet malts. It has a nice flavor but kind of misses the mark for a Wee Heavy. It's slightly sweet, with a nice bitterness in the middle and slightly dry on the finish. Nice use of hops in this one, but never becomes too bitter for those who like slighyl lower IBU ratings. Caramel coated orange slices is the best way to describe this beer's flavor. It's light-bodied, however, but what it lacks in body is almost made up in the flavor. Slightly creamy, light carbonation. This beer is pretty damn decent but nothing spectacular. I could have gone for a little fuller mouthfeel, but it was tasty and quite drinkable. Another example of how Bell's makes some of the most solid brews around.

 937 characters

Photo of GRPunk
3.83/5  rDev +7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Bottle (Batch # 8802) poured into a tulip glass.

A- It poured a deep ruby-amber body with medium-light carbonation. There was a one-finger, light tan head that fell to a good lace that left sticky rings on the glass.

S- The aroma was mainly sweet with some fruit notes. A little more reserved than I would think.

T- Pretty malty. It had a slightly bready flavor mixed with some fruity notes (a touch of cherry perhaps). The subtle hopping allows for a clean, dry finish.

M- Solid feel with a slight graininess (all to the good in my opinion). Medium carbonation provides a slight tingle.

D- It's an easy drinker. Something you could have more than one of, as compared to some of the overly sweet or spiced Christmas beers. I'd say drink this one through the day and dinner. Try one of the sweet or spicy offerings with dessert or as a nightcap.

Overall- It was a big surprise, starting with the style classification. It didn't seem "big" enough to be considered a Wee Heavy (though Bell's actually only refers to it as a Scotch Ale). Regardless of Scotch classification, I'd expect some peat-smoked flavor and aroma. That said, it's not a bad beer by any means. It reminded me a lot of their traditional Amber Ale. I give Bell's a lot of credit for going with all Michigan grown grains and at least some Michigan hops. I also like their bucking of tradition with both their Winter White and this beer breaking the mold for Winter/Holiday beers.

 1,451 characters

Photo of gordavidson
3.91/5  rDev +9.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A- A nice burnt orange is liquid with some small floaters in it. The head is white white and very creamy looking and leaves amazing lacing.

S- Some caramel, biscuit, straw, peat, and fruit. Pretty different for the style, and kind of sweet. Not exactly what I think of when it comes to a Scotch ale, but that isn't necessarily a bad thing.

T- Sweet, carmely, and earthy. Not very peaty at all. Just a good tasting ale. I kind of dig it.

M- Nice and creamy with a slight carbonated kick at the end.

D- A very tasty beverage, but not really close to the style. I enjoyed this much more than I thought I would.

 612 characters

Photo of pacothrash
3.86/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured a hazy orange color with a nice head. Overall the small and taste are somewhat lacking for a bells beer. I was expecting more of the normal cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger spice for a Christmas Ale until I realized that it was a Scotch Ale. This is a very drinkable Scotch Ale but I would rather have a Great Lakes Christmas Ale.

 332 characters

Photo of CrellMoset
3.4/5  rDev -5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Bottle from Wine Warehouse, Charlottesville, VA. Poured into an Allagash flute.

Appearance: Pours a hazy and somewhat dull bronze. Inspection at the periphery leads me to suspect floating particulate matter is present here somewhere, but it's hard to tell. A two-finger creamy tan head fades slowly into one-finger, and then into naught but a sheen of sticky, bubbly mess ... but at least it leaves some nice patches of lacing behind while doing so.

Aroma: Very strange - fruity gummy bears is the closest I can come to describing it. Roasted doughy notes provide plenty of the base, and certainly some kinda hop note is present there, along with tons of other strange dextrins. Interesting.

Taste: A bit of a disappointment. The malts here all seem rather muted - dry, toasty, faintly sweet, with those same sweet dextrins. There's also a bucketload (at least, stylistically-speaking) of herbal and grassy hop notes, unusually high for the style, to echo a few people below me. Not bad - just, unexpected, and a little strange.

Mouthfeel: A little overcarbonated, perhaps, almost to the point of unevenness.

Drinkability: A slight disappointment from Bell's that, while starting off well enough, fell short fairly quick. The carbonation was a little out of whack, the hop notes seemed out of place, and the malt profile a little simple. Tweak this one a little, though, and I'm sure you could get a really interesting, unique, and sessionable brew out of it, as the alcohol is quite low for the style.

 1,508 characters

Photo of KarlHungus
4/5  rDev +11.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This beer pours a cloudy burnt amber color. The head is an inch and a half in height, rocky, and recedes very slowly into thick, chunky lacing. The aroma is caramel, with a solid fill of herbal hops. The taste is very balanced for a Scottish Ale. There is surely a tone of malt, but there is also a significant amount soft herbal hops. The mouthfeel is medium bodied with a velvety texture, and mild carbonation. Overall, this beer is too hoppy for the style, but tasty nonetheless. I would love to see Bell's adding this to the yearly offerings.

 546 characters

Photo of fisherman34
3.3/5  rDev -7.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Bottled sample via oakbluff. Orange in colour with moderate carbonation. Surprisingly American C-hop forward on the nose, with notes of citrus and pine along with some smooth vanilla caramel malts in there too. Some odd flavors going on that are hard to pin down. There's definitely a green wood note, along with some odd floral and confectioner's sugar elements. Some moderate malt character provides some stability, but the palate just seems muddled to me. Clean finishing. Not really the Scotch ale or X-mas seasonal that you' d expect, but still fairly drinkable.

 567 characters

Photo of robg2251
3.26/5  rDev -8.9%
look: 3 | smell: 2 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Can't remember ever trying this beer, and I've been drinking Bells for 10 years. I'm not sure how long this has been around, but I finally picked one up. The beer pours a nice deep orange color with a foamy white head. The head went down, but there's still a thin layer as it sits here.
I smell a faint hint of cinnamon, very faint. Malt, orange and a slight hop fragrance.
Very smooth with medium to high carbonation.
The taste: Again, I taste some malts and some faint spices, with a crisp hop up front. Definitely taste some orange in there.
This is a good beer, but definitely not what I was thinking as far as a Christmas Ale goes. It's fine though, some of those holiday beers go overboard on the spices. This is a nice session beer, you could take to a holiday party and everyone would enjoy.

 803 characters

Photo of inhoc00
3.88/5  rDev +8.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Went with the Bell's Xmas over the Great Lakes Xmas at Armaneti's

A- Pours golden to cloudy amber.

S- Bready like a lager. Yeasty like a german pilsner. This is a scotch ale? Xmas seasonal?

T- Light hops, biscuits, yeah like a german pilsner. Reminds me very much, in fact, of DFH Golden Shower from years ago. Xmas tree on the label?

M- Fresh, sharp bubbly carbonation. Citrus snap for a winter ...seasonal?

D- Really easy. Could be a session. Imagine drinking this on a hot..sweaty...wait this is coming out in November? I'm a bit confused about this beer. Its not bad. Its not great. Its just a good beer with an odd seasonal symbol on the package and the name Bells on it which, in Chicago, could sell anything because of its popularity. Hmmm...should have gone with Great Lakes.

 788 characters

Photo of cokes
3.15/5  rDev -12%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Smoky cinnamon brown with a low beige cap.
Toasted dark bready nose, along the lines of pumpernickel. Some of that mushy, oatmeal and cement Bell's yeastiness. It's stronger here than anything I've had in the recent past. Hops add some dry leafiness, more autumnal than holiday.
Bready and doughy throughout the mouth. Toasty and rubbery too. It's hard to really define flavors here. It's not sweet, but it's not dry either. It's just sort of mush. Wet toast is probably the best example I've got, and lots of oatmeal and basement yeastiness, possibly touched with clove. Hops add a lightly spicy autumn leaf bitterness, with a vague notion of pine.
The mushiness carries over into the texture. It's flatish and blah...once again. It's not truly hard to drink, it's just hard to stay interested.

 795 characters

Photo of Crosling
2.25/5  rDev -37.2%
look: 2.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 1.5

Amber colored brew. Balanced but unpleasant nose, with hints of biscuit from the malt as well as some grapefruit and lemon from the hops. Flavor is very light, lacking complexity and depth. Nothing even close to a wee heavy. How is this beer not an amber ale?

 259 characters

Photo of nlmartin
3.8/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This beer was served in a pint glass.

Appearance: The beer has a very nice murky ruby coloration. The head is thick and pillowy with a biege coloration. The head retention is fantastic. This streams of lacing remain on my glass.

Smell: The aroma of the beer is oddly hop driven. I get alot of citrus grapefruit, lemon and a bit of grassyness. The hops are backed up by a cookie dough maltyness. Just a kiss of peat is floating around the aroma.

Taste: The sweet maltyness leads in the flavor. This is well supported by bitter hop bite and flash of smoke. Not very spicey but well done.

Mouthfeel/ Drinkability: The mouthfeel of the beer is just shy of medium. The beer is well carbonated. This is a easy to drink beer. Looking forward to polishing off a few more of these.

 776 characters

Photo of FtownThrowDown
3.58/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours dark ruby brown in color. There was a nice off white head forming on the pour. Smell is some pine, nutmeg and something that I got in the JP Noel but can't put a finger on it.
Taste is bitter and well carbonated. That flavor is back in full force in the taste and for the life of me I can't figure out what it is. It's a tad much as well. It could be toned down a bit and rounded out a little better.
We'll see how this gets once it warms up a bit.

 455 characters

Photo of morimech
3.28/5  rDev -8.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Pours a hazy amber color with two inches of white head that settles to a thin cap. Moderate amount of sticky lacing is left on the glass surface. Has a fruity hop aroma that is a bit unusual for the style and a winter brew. The flavor is also on the hoppy side. Citrus notes with a rather timid malt profile. Has a dry finish. The body is light and a bit overcarbonated. A nice tasting beer but I don't get what the brewer was going for here. Would be better as a summer beer than a winter one.

 494 characters

Photo of beachbum1975
3.91/5  rDev +9.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Batch # 8803 picked up at Root Cellar in Montgomery, Ohio.

I'm always excited to try another offering from Bell's, so here it is. Attractive, timeless label of a Christmas tree alone in a Midwest farm field.

This beer pours a rich and attractive ruby to copper color with a fine tan 1/4 inch head. Very nice to look at.

Smells of scotch, lightly roasted malts and a tinge of fresh hops.

Tastes reminiscent of the nose. A firm, but quick handshake with scotch, then some spiciness all wrapped up in velvety, lightly roasted malts.

Surprisingly light bodied with a super crisp and dry finish. Bitter in the beginning and middle, then fades away quickly.

Unique and worth a try!

 682 characters

Photo of miketd
2.83/5  rDev -20.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Pours dark copper with a small, off white head. Aroma is a bit subdued, but there is caramel, sweet malt and fruity.
Flavor is odd. sweet, almost medicinal thing. Has a decent mid palate of caramel malt and lasting malty finish.
Body and texture are decent. Drinkable, but very average creation. Meh.

 300 characters

Photo of gearbike
4.03/5  rDev +12.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A perfect dark golden color. Thin white as can be lacing clings to the glass. Nice fruit like sweetness smell. I immediately questioned if I was drinking a Scotch Ale but I will leave that up to the beer technocrats. Has a solid malty backbone with a soft sweetness. What make this beer great is that something extra that seems to come from the hops and slight carbonation. This no alcohol laced Christmas warmer. A very versatile drink for either a session beer or just for the great flavor.

 492 characters

Photo of Bighuge
3.53/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Murky looking bronze. Thin beige head. Lacing clings nicely. Aroma is real herbal and nutty. Also fruity. It's smells like a fruitcake. On the palate, there is a very interesting blend of berries, nuts and rum. Again, I'm reminded of Christmas fruit and nut breads. Pretty dry finish. Medium bodied and moderately carbonated. Most interesting scotch ale I've had. Pretty decent.

 378 characters

Christmas Ale (-2016) from Bell's Brewery - Eccentric Café & General Store
Beer rating: 3.58 out of 5 with 1,759 ratings